The year 2008 was an impressive year in terms of smart digital strategy on the Democratic side, where “change” went viral and then inevitably downhill. In 2012, all Republican Presidential hopefuls are gearing up for a digital face-off and putting teams behind their digital strategies. It’s certainly clear to me the internet has become a major player in political campaigns. In fact, according to a recent study done by Strata, online campaign spending has doubled since 2010. Campaigns small and large can learn something by observing how the larger political campaigns incorporate digital media into their overall strategies.
This is a big year on a local, state and national level and those who don’t get on board with digital this year will miss out on valuable, targeted opportunities to connect with voters. Here is a quick check-list to help start to shape your digital strategy in 2012:
1- BE proactive. Thinking ahead is the most important thing you can do when it comes to planning your digital strategy. Knowing what you want to accomplish a few months down the road should help define your current strategy. Take Romney for example, who was one of only two candidates to qualify for the Virginia Primary. Zac Moffat, Digital Director on the Romney campaign was quoted saying “the political team knew two months in advance what we wanted to do.” Team Romney utilized segmented emails to engage Virginians in the now, tracked them through their social media accounts, and followed up with phone calls to secure signatures. Thus, getting them to the future and ultimately on the Virginia ballot.
2- BE consistent: Keep your message consistent across all channels, on and offline. The benefit to advertising through multiple channels is it allows you to extend reach, and increase frequency, but be careful not to confuse your audience with varying messages.
3- BE relevant. Ensure all websites and landing pages are consistent with advertising messages. Don’t send someone to your website donations page from a banner ad or video if your message is about your voting record.
4- BE a part of the conversation. Keep the conversation alive and engage with your supporters and non-supporters through social channels (Facebook, Twitter etc.). People like to listen and be heard when they are interacting in the social space. Post things daily, whether it’s a link, a quote, a video, and allow your followers to interact with it. What you will likely see is people commenting, people liking and people sharing. This is the digital way to Word Of Mouth. Check out Mitt Romney’s or Obama’s Facebook page and get an idea of what is engaging their followers.
5- BE a risk taker. Don’t be afraid to try something new. The best thing about digital media is you can quickly gauge response, measure success, and switch out creative. If you have a great idea, try it, watch it, and if it’s not working try something new! The point being, do not be afraid to be creative in the digital space. There is no roadmap to success when it comes to digital media. As this landscape evolves, evolve with it.
6- BE an observer. Learn from the winning moves and losing moves that Romney, Santorum, Paul and Obama are making. Keep up-to-date with news about their online campaign spending, visit their websites often, sign up for their email updates, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. What you can learn through observation might surprise you.
As you begin to play in the digital space you will start to see how each element of your overall campaign strategy can be influenced but what you do online. Don’t let that scare you because if you don’t jump on board now you will certainly get left behind.